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How Accurate Is Instagram's Activity Status? Here’s How To Know When Your Friends Are Online

In a sea of social media apps, Instagram is my No. 1. It’s a great place to keep up with friends, share pictures, and stay up on the latest happenings from some of my fave celebs and brands. If you use Instagram with any regularity as I do, then you may have noticed that the app lets you view another user’s activity status. This feature is supposed to tell you when a person is actively using Instagram and how long it’s been since they were last active. As an avid user, I sometimes wonder, “How accurate is Instagram’s activity status?” Here's how to know when your friends are online.

As you may already know, if a user is active on Instagram, a small green dot will appear next to the person's Instagram handle name and photo in your direct inbox and other areas within the app. To sum it all up, if you see that green dot next to the person's name, that means the user is currently on Instagram. Secondly, you may see information about the last time the user was active by looking in your Direct Inbox. Next to the person's user name, you might see phrases like "active 25m ago" or "active yesterday," according to Instagram. This lets you know the last time that a person was actively on the app, even if they aren't currently using it.

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Instagram launched the activity status feature back in July 2018. Personally, I was a little creeped out by this feature. In turn, I shut off my activity status so that others can't see when I'm on the app or find out the last time I was active. (I like to fly under the radar.) This can easily be done clicking on your user picture in the bottom righthand corner of the Instagram app. From there, click the three black lines in the upper righthand corner and then select the "Settings" option in the lower righthand corner.

The next screen shows all of the different settings and options associated with your Instagram account. Scroll down to the "Privacy and Security" section and the "Activity Status" feature is the third one from the top. Tap to open the Activity Status page. Here, you'll have the option to turn the feature on or off. Simply click the toggle button. White indicates that the feature is off, and green means that the feature is on. It's a fairly simple process.

When you set the feature to off, other users won't be able to view your activity status. This also means that you won't be able to view the activity status of other people that you interact with, either. Sometimes it's nice to know when your friends are using the app, especially if you're DMing them meme after meme.

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All in all, the activity status feature seems to be pretty accurate, based on what I've gathered from Instagram. Of course, my own curiosity got the best of me so I decided to put it to the test myself. I switched the feature back on for a few minutes to quickly try it out with a few friends. When I was online using the app, a green dot appeared next to my user name. After closing out of the app but leaving the activity status feature on, it eventually said I was active 15 minutes ago.

So, there you have it. The green dot really does light up when you're using the app and have the activity status option flipped on. That's not to say that Instagram is 100 percent perfect, because sometimes technology can be a bit wonky. That said, you should feel confident that the green dot is a pretty fair indicator of when someone is actively on Instagram.